Science fiction has always been an important source of inspiration for the technologies at our disposal today. Cell phones and automatic sliding doors first appeared on Star Trek, and the idea for the equivalent of an Internet search engine was first described by Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Or watching Space brothers on kissanime , and thinks that these technologies never gonna be real but things has been changes everyday.

2021 could also be an exciting year for the genre. What can we expect in Extinction, the new film from ex Machina director Alex Garland? Or in Mute, the new Blade Runner-inspired Duncan Jones film? And what about Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, which is largely set in virtual reality? In the new science fiction films, we will get to know many interesting fantasy technologies that we can look forward to implementing in the future.

But before we get lost in speculation, let’s take a look back at the technologies that actually exist today: In many areas, the future is already present.

1. RoboCop (1987): Robots in the fight against crime

  • Name: RoboCop
  • Inventor: Omni Consumer Products
  • Function: Supporting the Detroit Police in fighting crime

The counterpart in the present:

  • Name: REEM
  • Inventor: PAL Robotics
  • Function: Supporting the police in Dubai in fighting crime

RoboCop actually exists … at least almost. This humanoid robot will be used in Dubai’s tourist hotspots to fight crime. Using a touchscreen on his chest, people can report crimes, submit forms, and pay parking tickets. At the same time, an integrated camera transmits live images to the police headquarters. By the year 2030, Dubai’s police force should even consist of 25% of robot police officers.

2. Escape to the 23rd Century (1976): Driverless transport capsules

  • Name: Pod Cars
  • Inventor: Dean Jeffries (real-life automotive designer)
  • Function: Transportation of people in the city via transport tubes

The counterpart in the present

:

  • Name: Driverless Transport Pods
  • Inventor: Oxbotica
  • Function: national passenger transport

We are slowly but surely moving towards a world on whose roads there will be autonomous vehicles. Waymo, formerly known as Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, has already started initial test runs with driverless taxis in Phoenix, Arizona. The French manufacturer Navya has presented a taxi that no longer even has a driver’s seat or a physical steering wheel. And although there are still many unanswered questions regarding infrastructure, legal regulations, and public acceptance, it can be assumed that these vehicles will become the norm over the next decade.

3. Her (2013): Intelligent Operating System

  • Name: Samantha
  • Inventor: OS1
  • Function: Intelligent computer operating system

The counterpart in the present:

  • Name: Siri
  • Inventor: Apple
  • Function: voice-activated personal assistant

Apple, Microsoft, and Google have made huge leaps in development in the area of ​​voice-activated personal assistants. Their systems are able to recognize our likes, dislikes, and behavior patterns in order to offer us personalized service. However, they still lack the emotional intelligence and eloquence of Scarlett Johansson’s film character. Which is probably better for us too.

4. Wall-E – The last one cleans up the earth (2008): Garbage robots

  • Name: Wall-E
  • Inventor: Buy-N-Large
  • Function: compressing garbage into small cubes

The counterpart in the present:

  • Name: Robot-based Autonomous Refuse (ROAR)
  • Inventor: Volvo

Function: emptying garbage cans into a garbage truck

An important goal of automation is to free us from annoying and monotonous work. And what’s more annoying than emptying garbage cans?

In collaboration with Chalmers University of Technology, Mälardalen University, Penn State University, and the recycling company Renova, Volvo has developed the ROAR robot system for automatic waste disposal. A drone scans the environment and selects certain garbage cans. Then a robot is sent out to empty every garbage can into the hold of a garbage truck. The technology is still in the early stages of development (and not nearly as cute as Wall-E).

5. Minority Report (2002): Preemptive Crime Fighting

  • Name: Predictive Policing
  • Inventor: PreCrime Police Department
  • Function: Mutants with special mental abilities identify so-called “pre-crimes” by means of precognition, which means that citizens can be arrested preemptively

The counterpart in the present:

  • Name: PredPol
  • Inventor: PredPol
  • Function: Planning of patrol trips on the basis of data on the type of crime, crime scene, and crime time

We admit: There are no mutants at work here who foresee crimes that are yet to happen. Instead, police across the world are increasingly relying on data. A large amount of data. Data is collected, stored, and analyzed to identify patterns in criminal activity so that the police can predict crime to a certain extent and thereby use their resources more efficiently.

Again, the technology is not perfect. Data can also always be distorted and reinforce existing prejudices about gender, ethnicity, and social milieu. But as with many other problems related to technology, the problem shows us very clearly why people still play an important role.

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